In an absolutely shocking move, Disney yesterday rehired James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn was fired from his position last year after poor-taste decade-old social media posts resurfaced. Fans, filmmakers, and actors voiced their displeasure over the decision at the time. Now, Gunn is back in the director’s chair, but this does raise some questions about when Vol. 3 will hit theaters.
By our calculations, it’s possible that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won’t arrive in theaters until 2023, due to James Gunn’s new commitment to DC and The Suicide Squad.
After James Gunn was let go by Disney, it wasn’t that long until Warner Bros. scooped him up to write and direct the Suicide Squad reboot. It was a big story at the time that one of Marvel’s most prominent directors made the jump to DC. Even though Gunn is back with Marvel, his Suicide Squad movie is reportedly still on, and Marvel is willing to wait for Gunn to wrap that project to finally move forward with Vol. 3.
The Suicide Squad is currently expected to begin filming this fall with a release date set for August 2021. That means Gunn probably won’t be able to start production for Vol. 3 until either late 2021 or early 2022. Marvel’s normal production schedule usually takes about one year, so that puts Vol. 3 in theaters by 2023 — six years after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Thankfully, there may already be some shortcuts Vol. 3 can take. James Gunn had already finished the script before he was fired. There are no doubt some rewrites and tweaks still left to be done, but at least there’s a complete draft of the screenplay.
Of course, this is all assuming that The Suicide Squad keeps its release date and shooting schedule. Whether or not that gets pushed backward or forward really impacts what Vol. 3 will do and how much focus James Gunn can devote to it.